USS Croaker – Buffalo Naval Park

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Spectral inspections of the living’s bags is routine.

Spirits give women tender attention.

Yup! A classic spectral grouch is not a great host.
Restless ones pace and footsteps are heard often.


The USS Croaker is a 1943 Gato-class diesel-electric submarine, built by General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton Connecticut. It was named for fish known as croakers, that make “throbbing or drumming noises.” (Wikipedia)

The Croaker is three hundred and eleven feet, nine inches long, with a beam of twenty-seven feet and 3 inches, and a draft of seventeen feet.

When the Croaker was in service,The crew consisted of six officers and fifty-four enlisted men who could stay out on patrol for seventy-five days, and could stay submerged for forty-eight hours straight.

The Croaker got its speed from four General Motors Model 16-248 V16 Diesel engines that drove electric generators. It was built with four high speed General Electronic motors with reduction gears. Two propellers helped to propel this large submarine along.

Inside, it was a mini-city, providing the necessities of life while meeting the requirements of war. The men ate, slept, showered, etc. and had sleeping quarters when not on duty. There was no wasted space and this experience wasn’t for claustrophobic people.

For the tools of war, there was the bridge for the captain, officers and necessary stations, and the customary periscope to see the target.

The armory consisted of ten, twenty-one inch torpedo tubes: six forward, four aft, twenty four torpedos, one 76 mm/50 caliber deck gun, and Bofors 40 mm and Oerlikon 20 mm cannon.

Tom and I visited the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park to see the three haunted vessels docked there. The steps going down into the inside of the Croaker were very steep so I chickened out, but Tom went inside to take his photos.

According to Tom, The Croaker is exactly the same as it was during World War 2, a true historical look at what it was like to serve on this submarine.



The USS Croaker was launched on December 19th, 1943. She entered the war against the Japanese when she arrived at Pearl Harbor on June 26th, 1944. The Croaker began patrolling in the East China and Yellow Seas in July of 1944.

During World War 2, The USS Croaker earned three battle stars for sinking Japanese ships, one of which sank the light cruiser Juneau (CL-52), killing the five Sullivan brothers. The USS Croaker received The Navy Unit Commendation.

Her first war patrol was very successful. In August, The Croaker torpedoed the Japanese cruiser Nagara, an auxiliary minesweeper, Taito Maru and two freighters: Daigen Maru No 7, and Yamateru Maru.

When she wasn’t sinking enemy vessels, she picked up downed pilots when they bailed from their planes during air strikes of the Bonin Islands.

After being rearmed and refitted at Midway, her second patrol began in September of 1944 when she sailed again in a coordinated attack effort heading for the East China and Yellow Seas on another hunting mission.

In October, The Croaker sank three freighters: Shinki Maru, Hakuran Maru and Mikage Maru. With her last torpedo, The Croaker heavily damaged the freighter Gassan Maru, which must have given their crew a big fright.

On her third patrol, The Croaker went to the Luzon Straits and South China Sea, from December of 1944 to February of 1945. While not finding any Japanese vessels, she once again rescued shot down pilots who had been striking at positions on Luzon, to soften resistance to the coming invasion landings in Lingayen Gulf.

Her fourth patrol off the coast of Indo-China was interrupted twice because of needed repairs in Australia.

Her final war patrol was again to pick up downed pilots in the South China Sea and by Hong Kong, during the final air attacks on Japan.

On May 15th, 1946, The Croaker was decommissioned and put on reserve in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

From May of 1951 to March 1953, The Croaker served as a school ship for naval trainees. She was then taken to Portsmouth Ship Yard to be converted into a hunter-killer submarine. On April of 1953, she was reclassified as an SSK-246 and recommissioned in December of 1953.

The Croaker returned to active duty in February of 1954, serving until May of 1967, when she was reclassified as an Auxiliary Submarine AGSS-246, and then decommissioned on April 2nd, 1968.

The writing was on the wall. It was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on December 20th 1971, and reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified Submarine IXSS-246.

From 1977 to 1987, The Croaker was on display as a private attraction in Grotin, Connecticut, run by the Submarine Memorial Association. However, they were not able to meet the Navy’s standards of historically preserving it, so the Croaker wound up in a place that could meet these standards: The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, in Buffalo, New York.

Apparently, spectral members of the crew came along for the ride.



When a spirit has claimed a space in this world, he or she may resent the living and be unwilling to share.

Buford House, AZ (The spirit of an older woman used to yell at bed and breakfast guests to get out of her room).

Saint James Hotel, NM (The spirit of a murdered gambler has claimed the room he was staying in when he was shot for his winnings. Always in a foul temper, rude and aggressive, he forced the owners of the hotel to lock his room permanently).

Church Street Cafe, NM (When the new owner began to renovate this adobe structure to be a restaurant, the adobe’s spectral matriarch, Sarah, showed up in a tizzy and did everything she could to disrupt construction, until the owner had a heart-to-heart talk with this spirit).

USS Croaker, NY (An annoyed, rude male spirit isn’t willing to share his submarine with the living civilians who come to tour or investigate).


Spirits sometimes seek in this world what they most miss in the afterlife.

Saint Francis Inn, FL (The spirit of a young soldier likes to flirt with the receptionists and kiss sleeping brides who are here on their honeymoon).

Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, MA (Innkeeper Jerusha Howe sometimes forgets her social manners and gets a little affectionate with male visitors, while she waits for her lost beloved to return).

Hotel Adolphus, TX (A bride that killed herself because she was stood up, misses the company of people her age and has been known to crash small parties going on in the guest rooms).

USS Croaker, NY (A restless spirit who misses his beloved he had while alive, finds comfort in gently touching female visitors and investigators).


Sometimes spirits chose to spend their afterlife in a place where they felt a common goal amongst friends, as well as great memories.

Cleveland Grays Armory Museum, OH (Spirits of past members still like to visit or reside in a place with so many good memories).

USS Sullivans Museum, NY (Both the spirits of the Sullivan brothers and the crew members who actually served on board still do).

USS Hornet Air and Space Museum, CA (Many spirits who served on this aircraft carrier have chosen to reside here for a variety of reasons).

USS Croaker, NY (Spirits of past crew members have chosen to visit or reside here in their afterlife).



The paranormal activity reported here is mainly auditory, with some physical contact from unseen spirits.


Female visitors are greatly appreciated by the male spirits still serving on board, especially in the enlisted mens’ bunk area.

According to a Buffalo News article, women have felt non-threatening but “strange sensations of a cold brush on their skin and nonexistent fingers running through their hair.”

The Spectral Grouch

This angry spirit is known as John, who must have told someone living what his name was while alive.

He resents non-Navy people coming aboard his submarine.

His unseen presence can make visitors uncomfortable as he glares at them as intruders.

Sometimes his annoyance bubbles over and he has been known to pull hair and breathe down people’s necks.

Intimidation By Sound

Sometimes he can control his annoyance by growling instead.

A spirit will steadily stomp with boots on, as it paces back and forth on the outside deck, scaring the living down below.

This could be the spirit of John, trying to refrain from physical interactions.

Auditory Activity

Living visitors have heard auditory cues from instruments, and radio transmissions which are probably residual.

The disembodied voices may be the spectral crew still serving their country. One male spirit is very clear with his voice, and interacts with the living.

Footsteps by intelligent spirits are often connected to interactive experiences with them.

Visitors can hear their bags being unzipped and zipped again. This is a naval sub and no contraband or weapons are allowed on board.


Paranormal activity has been experienced on board The Croaker by staff, volunteers, and visitors from intelligent spirits as well as residual energy that still lingers. Paranormal groups don’t go way empty-handed either. Paranormal groups have reported that they have had personal experiences, had some intelligent interaction, and heard disembodied male voices. Many have recorded hard evidence that backs up everyone’s personal experiences.

Beyond Ghosts state that The Croaker as well as the USS Little Rock and the USS Sullivans have a lot of paranormal activity. When they investigate as a group, they have caught EVPs aboard The Croaker and also have had personal experiences similar to what is claimed by witnesses.

Ghost Hunters (TAPS) filmed Episode 2 in Season 10 at this naval park.

According to the Reality Wanted website,”Amy and Andy were the first to board the submarine. On three separate occasions they heard a man’s voice that was so obvious that they called out to see if anybody else was there with them.”

Also,”Michelle and Britt set up their EMF equipment in the middle of the sub and it wasn’t long before the devices started to sound, right after hearing footsteps just five feet away from them. Britt tried knocking on the sub morse code style and tried to see if he got a response…and he did….three knocks right back at him. All of this was picked up on their audio.” (Article by Chad -

Thankfully, the spirit of John contained his annoyance and didn’t resort to his usual negative antics.



Yes indeed, by at least two intelligent spirits of the past submarine crew who worked on board in their time.

One of them is a sad soul of an enlisted man who misses the women in his life, but finds some peace by touching live ones who visit.

The other known spirit is the crotchety John who has claimed this sub as his place of work and resents non-navy civilians being on board.

Unknown intelligent spirits may also be on board, keeping these two company. Some spirit feels compelled to check the bags brought on board for contraband. Perhaps he does the same chore on The USS Little Rock. Some spirits of former crew members may come to visit the grouchy one and the sad soul who reside here.



1 Naval, Marina Park S
Buffalo, NY 14202

The USS Croaker can be found in the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park at Canalside.


  • “Ghost Hunters” episode shot in Buffalo airs next week,By Alan Pergament, Jan 21, 2014\\
  • “Phantom Fleet,” Season 10: Episode 2 of Ghost Hunters (TAPS)
    According to Haunted Rooms America, there are people that claim there’s an angry spirit named John aboard the submarine. He’s said to pull hair of guests and even breathe on their necks.
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